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The Old Man Jumps

April 13, 2013

‘It’s basic economics, mes petites-souillons.  If the American people allow a private bank control over the issue of currency,’ so Wilhelm Reich tongues the clitoris of his dinner guests’ politics, ‘their children will surely wake up homeless on the very continent their fathers had only lately conquered.’

The laity piffles.  Paris, ’24.

Naturellement, I have no faith in the American.  Morons of the highest degree.  Miracle they haven’t yet been conquered by a tyrant.’

All at once, the attendant smatter of social scientists – cherry, virginal and also intellectually lazy; stinking of Veuve-Cliquote, loaded with cocaine, torsioning spent ends out of slender cigarette holders; multilingual, pansexually liberal, hypothetically socialist and not a one out of their 20’s – clank silver to crystal, enrapt.  Wilhelm titters.

Wilhelms Sigil

It’s Simple Arithmetic, Really   [img: W. Reich]

Nearly one hundred years later.  A late spring.  Wilhelm masturbates on his back porch sort of saluting Lake Maxinkuckee in the wee small hours.  Steaming cup of coffee set on a railing.  A wing of geese light and wheel, spreading seagreen shit cigars.  On the far shore, candycane tape seals off another foreclosure around the lake.  The sheriff’s face one big squint as he yawns.  The wholeness of the routine is singular.  Far too charitable a word, ‘moron’, the ancient psychiatrist and sometime charlatan, Dr. Reich, thinks to himself.  Far too charitable.

The lake is some kind of cool steel blue this morning.  It looks cleaner, right to the sandy bottom.  All the prolonged freezing and thawing while tiresome definitely killed most of the worst stuff in there.  The weeds and algal mass will start to grow back in a matter of days, but right now: it epitomises fresh.  Herr Doktor Reich lusts to drop his aged seed into the water and continue his morning toilet.

The positive energies of the Universe are tied together, and coming brings it through the person.

A tautology both occult and dangerous, Wilhelm had at one time thought about helping the world to it.  Promulgate the discovery’s regenerative power.  His name would sail into the forever of infamy.  How ironically prescient.  The swine locked him in jail for a time, enfeebled by their own insecurity, he thinks dimly now.

Cardinals chirp from the maples.  Pretty pretty pretty.  A gentle fap-fap-fap­ of self-abuse.  At the waterline, a muskrat flops and plunks.  Orgasm teeters on one foot, a trick of perspective that has it retreating or approaching dependant on one’s optical mood.  Of course such a stasis will always be upset.  Nature’s truism.

The telephone peals.  Only too timely, but unstartling to such a stout practitioner of art and wielder of science as Wilhelm.  His more dextrous hand continues to piston while his left methodically pulls on the loose skin of his scrotum.  The regular self-inspection for testicular cysts.  Untouched by such a manly cancer, he fondly informs dinner guests – of which there seem to be unending droves following his recent, spectacularly successful base jump from an International Space Station cargo capsule on its return trip to Earth; informs them the results of his examinations.  ‘Found a new mole near my anus, best alert NASA,’ he will pronounce over soup.  ‘The old taint was quite rigid this morning, but clean as the air in Kathmandu,’ he’ll quip at the vienneta.  Occasionally a returning guest will ask for an update.  Normally, though, his pendulous prognoses come unbidden.

The base jump, the foolish trick of gravity and Kevlar that saved Wilhelm from obscurity.  Yeah, everyone loves that toss.

Eventually the phone tires of its unrequited rattling.  Answering machine takes over, servos click, tape spools.  His publicist and assistant, Sandra, can be heard identifying the number as that of Herr Doktor Reich who may or may not beregrettably indisposed, directing the caller to Be a lovely dear and leave us your contact credentials, and you will be rejoined in due course. Ta.  The precocious young thing is not even English, though she is quite fond of putting on accents when making recordings.  She fancies it makes them sound more official.

Sandra joined Wilhelm when he came to the Midwest some four years past.  She had been one of the literature grad students through the region hand-picked as candidates for the vernerated doctor’s personal assistant by faculty familiar with his mission.  Wilhelm was most smitten with her button nose, so she got the job.  On introduction, her youth belied an underdeveloped wit and temper that people tended to regret taking for granted.  Sandra often took the advantage.

Shortly into their first meeting, the would-be candidate rounded on him.  ‘Oh, orgone or whatever,’ in a doe-eyed sneer, ‘just like that Karl What’s-its-name, from the late-night commercials,’ putting on one of her voices, ‘Don’t get scammed by copycats and fakes!  Insist on being scammed by the original, genuine liar who invented this pile to steal your money!’  She stood.  Walked to the door.  Breezily turning, a sparkle of muted hubris as her lashes fluttered at her presumptive interviewer.  Her voice dropped back to normal.  ‘I don’t work Sundays or Mondays, and you can’t ever comment on my clothes or hair – and don’t ask me about my shoes.   I don’t often wear them.’  A big smile.  ‘And don’t you ever dare get your prick out in front of me.  I’ll start next week.’

From that point forward, she took complete control of his affairs.  Wilhelm is not even certain of the amount she takes as a wage.

The answering machine’s tape receives some unashamed obsequy or another.  Some cub reporter, some regional news source.  Some clap-trap about the base jump.  Cocksuckers, Wilhelm spits through the screen door.  These same mindless taste-makers who only seventy years ago would have been discrediting his scientific pursuits now seek to laudate such an imperilling mendacity as donning a wingsuit and falling through the stratosphere from a supersonic hunk of metal.

The speaking fees pay the bills again, true – the first time in decades.  He shouldn’t complain.  But Wilhelm feels this late celebrity is making him soft.

In terms of his edge, he is as sharp and terse as ever.  But he is also half flaccid in his parchment-and-rope hands this morning.  The afflatus of his ego, teased and sucked by a fauning public, disgusts him past his own physical arousal.  Fucking moron America, lying down to die in a shallow pile of conceited filth, self-centeredness decentralised by mass media, social media, multimedia consumer experience, her spirit of constant self-invention being co-opted by the fascists.  The ancient psychiatrist pumps away irrelevantly.  Sets his long-false teeth.

Being sold choice.  Buying freedom.  Shopping for the corporate sanctioned alternative.  How the fuck else could Goldman Sachs pillage then go sit on a screw-daddy administration and claim to be un-fucking the things it had fucked up in the first; describe a system with obscured underlying mechanisms and oblivious operators.  Cowards and whores.  There it goes – rage puts some lead back in his prick.  Salivating, he reaches for his cup of coffee with one hand.

Only a small rebirth.  The past month or so, his dream journal features a lot of zombification.  His mind simplified, body learning to subsist on a foreign and sometimes abstract element – one night it was raw ethyl alcohol, the next it was the shame of his transformation, peeling off skin and picking veins from his arms; another night, dream-Wilhelm fed on the self-inflicted misery of those around him.  Not vampirism, because he fed without cunning or thought or care.  And not sadism, because he derived no enjoyment.

Is it a kind of ennui, he wonders.  Maybe embracing it would be therapeutic.  That is after all how he ended up in the wing suit falling at thirty-two feet per second per second.  He was addressing a fear of heights.  Not half as deadly as the cure, no doubt.  But entropy is different, is an honest disease.  So many people get depressed, find drugs, get to the bottom, find their way back, or ascend to mania, end up dead or – even worse – find religion.  His coffee goes back all in one go.  Wet ring on the rail and a new one started just near it under a cup suggesting If your wife drives you to drink, have her drive you to the Bear’s Den.

It is at this opening that Sandra clears her throat.  Now Wilhelm seems to startle.  Hadn’t even heard her automobile pull in.  One of those hybrid whatevers.  Still, his perfunctory onanism continues.  Addresses his lone staff member: ‘Well I might have sworn I relocated to this lake for a bit of undisturbed peace.’

These last few years, Sandra’s girlhood has stood aside to the full, beaming energies of womanhood, a blush of utter certitude awakening in her cheeks, a totality of self eclipsing all other previous iterations of her powerful beauty.  From a bag, Sandra produces the bound folio containing the day’s agenda.

‘There’s no peace in a place named after the people from which it was stolen, Herr Doktor.   Now finish up, there are matters… at hand.’  That dimpled smirk.  The rolling meadow of her chest as she pushes past to the kitchen.

The self-abusing Austrian notices the fabric holding her breasts is thin today; meagre offerings to some Verbius who would clash with others for the Kingly rights to suckle on their life; to some Hippolytus to shun the worldly pairs of pink nipple meat for the divine cleavage displayed.

Doch, liebchen.  Peace is impossible.  I was more ruing the dearth of privacy around here.’  Sandra rewinds the tape on the answering machine.  Starts the steam arm for an espresso.  Checks her mobile device screen.  The ex-psychoanalyst continues his thought as the vain often do, oblivious.

‘Privacy disappeared from this culture ages ago.’  Fap fap fap.  ‘Secrets, too.  No one desires either of them anymore … a secret is a very lonely luxury, so virtually null value.  And privacy is so cheap – secure shopping, online anonymity, PIN numbers – that its ubiquity elicits disgust from the chic and the common yearn for a more conspicuous stuff … nobody’s buying, so we have none.”  His assistant’s eyes are glazed when he seeks them through the screen door.  And Wilhelm realises he’s gone mostly soft again.

And just as well, he thinks to himself.  A long time ago Wilhelm reasoned that as scientific inquiry, itself woven of our thoughts and concentration, stitches up the causes of all things, it is less likely that we retain an inner life.  This outer world both prevailing on and created by the inner, the imagination, the idea machine that pries further into our thoughts, ironically laid bare by them.  Will it finally dispel the jealous curses of displaced insecurity, duplicitous promises to loved ones, the perfect fetishes and desires that go unnamed, unrealised, leeching out instead, rampantly mutating, pinning us to the ground.  Lies.  Self- deceit.  Repressed sexual impulses and violent energy.  Will we finally redefine morality?  Imagine no tension or contradiction between the invisible world of our imagination and the everyday world of sensate interactions … just a constant coming on of wind.  Just like falling.

And we’re back to the base jump from the International Space Station.

As we were saying before, Wilhelm has been experiencing dream inertia.  Before the zombies, the dominant theme was heights.  Dreams where he was at the top of a very high tree, or pole or building’s façade, with no obvious safe way to retreat.  He knew  getting down would require double the bravery it took to climb or scale or however he gained the spots he found himself.  He was mortified.  Often the dreams would lurch forward or fold back on themselves and there would be the ground, but he could never take action.  Weeks and weeks of this.  The ‘character’  Hardy wrote about just failed to manifest time and again.  It was during this spell that he met Jeb Corliss.

Jeb has at some point in twenty years of throwing himself off of cliffs and whatnot, accordingly broken all the bones in both his legs, seen friends dash their lives out against mountainsides, and has come to find swimming with toxic jellyfish relaxes him.  Quite a visceral conduit of the conscious universe, totally sociopathic and balding.  Of course he would find the Doktor somewhere along his journey.

The two men were at the same bar in some well-heeled end of some dirty city on perpendicular speaking tours when they happened to meet in the toilet.  The withered Austrian insulfating narcotics off the ceramic sink-edge and the other one politely asking after the soap dispenser.  Invited to a snort and a toot of his own.  Sharing stories, convincing a member of waitstaff to bring drinks in.  Only natural, once he learned the other’s profession, that Wilhelm would ask if Jeb could teach him to overcome what was an apparent fear of heights.  He accepted, partially due to the instant artificial bond cocaine lends, but also partially out of respect for the antiquarian bad boy.  Sandra offered no objection.  Said it might be good for some publicity.

They were the oddest couple for the next few weeks: the one beyond elderly, deflective, fond of abortion as a primary method of birth control; the other a thirty-something adrenalin junkie, sometime clothing designer and maybe contributor to deaths-by-mountain-smashing, promoting such activities as recreational instead of suicidal as he does.  It was a harmonious mismatch.

Jeb suggested base jumping from a crevice in a gorge; Wilhelm said let’s.  Jeb told him he would take a free-fall from the peak of an inactive volcano in the Southwest; Wilhelm begged to join him.  Jeb phoned and introduced the possibility of a jump from the moon.  Wilhelm thought a short moment and said why not.  No better way to deal with dream-vertigo than with a waking 400,000 kilometre base jump.  Sandra would shortly come to inform them that without gravity there is no such thing as jumping, falling, wind, etc.  But they were committed to do something, ahem, spacey.

After much brainstorming, the pair decided to trek to the International Space Station; hitch along on a re-entry capsule of equipment and samples; eject themselves from this hunk of man-made debris at the first possible altitude where they will be drawn bodily toward the ground.  There would be the question of oxygen, and then of friction – nobody wants to burst into flames unless they are affecting some kind of punk rock posture or making a statement entrée on Top Chef or whatever.  Sandra would handle the press.  Days of planning.  Meetings.  Jeb seemed tireless.  Wilhelm focused on the frenetic hum of those around him; the higher the tension of a situation, the more energy available to tap into.

The jump itself was calming.

Plunging through the atmosphere, the earth coming closer by intervals too slow to register, a vicious wind lifting one’s person back out to drift, resisting the infantile effort to get groundward, back home; the wind seemed to question, but what is home to you, plummeting ape, was it not your choice to come all the way out past the Van Alen belts into the radiation of open space to perch atop a capsule aimed at the pulsing electric dynamo below, to try to cheat it in every other way;  to give a thumbed nose to gravity, thumbed nose to home, to crushing pressure changes; a middle finger to the whipping winds of the upper troposphere, to the static discharges of the cirrus boiling with icicles and rupturing typhoons; thumbs at ape noses as if to claim that this ape fabric cannot be ribboned, these ape bones no mere balsa-braces carrying newsprint sails.  Chutzpah.  An utter cheat.  Pfoooh.  Back out to space with you.

But of course, they fell and fell and coasted along and then deployed their ‘chutes and eventually landed in the green, green grass of home.  Iowa, actually, but you know what was meant.  Back on the ground of Earth, in one piece: home.

A veritable field of press coverage was waiting, everyone’s sensors and lenses and instruments pointed skywards during the preceding three hours.  The whole thing documented.  Two Kevlar flying squirrels in jetpilots’ black-domed bee masks and oxygen tubes speeding unnaturally through the sky, growing somewhat larger, slowing, seeming to grow smaller, softly touching down.  A wave of applause for miles.  People sat up in barstools and Barcaloungers, reverent, inspired.  Sandra gave Wilhelm a kiss on the cheek.  Pinched Jeb’s butt.  A beautiful sunny day in the corner of the world where they landed.  And the 24-hour press cycle kept on pushing the angle, celebratory at first, until it resembled a cat kicking dirt over its month-old shit.

Back in the kitchen, the back porch by an awakening Maxinkuckee, Wilhelm has given up on masturbating himself.  He pulls his robe shut.  Joins his administrator inside the pale blue of the tiled kitchen.

She sips at the crema on her Illy shot.  ‘There you are; down to business.  You have a junket in Detroit, we fly out at one; before that, there’s the Town Council BZA luncheon where you take an honorary At-Large appointment, and you need to get some pants on pronto, Doktor.’

‘Who was that on the answering machine?’

‘It was your dead, tart mother for all you care.  Now stop avoiding it and get a move on, old man – there are a billion things to do today!’  His erection stirs.

From → Diary ah?

One Comment
  1. I think it needs a faster pace and digestible dialog, because it is dense but nicely textured. there’s a more of a sophistication here on the surface.

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